Through therapy, people learn to discover feelings that may have been suppressed or masked by other feelings and to accept and trust their emotions.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz Perls in the 1940s as an alternative to conventional psychoanalysis. It is an experiential and humanistic form of person-centred psychotherapy that is focused on an individual’s present life and challenges, rather than delving into past experiences. This approach stresses the importance of understanding the context of a person’s life and taking responsibility rather than placing blame.
It embraces the holistic view that people are intricately linked to and influenced by their environments and that all people strive toward, and are capable of, growth and balance. Clients are encouraged to learn to become more aware of how their own negative thought patterns and behaviours are blocking true self-awareness and making them unhappy.
Through therapy, people learn to discover feelings that may have been suppressed or masked by other feelings and to accept and trust their emotions. A person gains a new sense of self as awareness increases. The focus on the here and now does not negate past events or future possibilities, the idea is to avoid dwelling on the past or anxiously anticipating the future. Gestalt therapy can be challenging and should always be practised in a safe and sensitive manner in order for clients to progress and become psychologically more mature, gaining emotional intelligence and leading to better decision-making.
Some of the benefits are better self-control, regulating emotional states and learning the skills that help us deal with difficult situations better. Clients learn to attain a greater level of tolerance of emotions and better emotional understanding and awareness.
Lastly, the client must be able to get rid of neurotic behaviours.
- Direct experience of the here and now
- Exploring emotions through physical sensation.
- Projection, the theory that we ‘project’ aspects of ourselves onto others, situations and objects
- The whole is more than the sum of its parts
- Enabling clients to explore child ‘parts’ of themselves
- Integration is creating a whole person whose behaviour matches their authentic self
- Awareness and self-awareness
- Taking self-responsibility for our own actions
- Making full contact with emotions, experiences and fantasies.
- Awareness of the body